We buy cosmetic products every day, completely unaware and uninformed of the processes taken before it gets placed on the shelves. Cosmetic products range from whitening toothpaste to powder foundation to household detergents, yet public opinion does not seem to be too concerned with how the safety of these products has been tested. Here is the ugly truth about animal testing in the cosmetics industry.
Which animals get tested? According to a fact sheet provided by the Humane Society, scientists mainly use mice, rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs in the labs.
What are some of the procedures done to the animals? Often without any pain anesthetics, scientists restrain and force-feed animals new chemicals or ingredients to be used in a product. The force-feeding process lasts anywhere from weeks to months. Scientists utilize these processes to test for birth defects or cancer-causing agents, as well as the chemical toxicity. Animals receive high dosages for the purpose of discovering the ingredient’s lethal dosage in humans. Another common procedure scientists use is rubbing the chemicals on the animals’ skin and eyes to test for irritation. At the end of the tests, animals are killed by either asphyxiation, neck-breaking, or decapitation, usually without pain relief or anesthetics. Several of these animals, unfortunately, go undocumented and therefore unprotected by the Animal Welfare Act of 1966, the only federal law which protects animals in laboratory testing environments.
Why test? Is it necessary? While the debate between animal activists and the scientific community remains heated, there has been some consensus that animal testing is expensive and not as effective as other possible alternatives. In recent years, scientists have developed new computational, molecular, and cell biological methods to replace animal testing. These new methods have often given evidence to being more effective and economical. In vitro testing, for example, uses human cells and tissues for chemical testing. Because the chemicals test on human biology, the results can be more relevant and successful than testing on animals. There have also been developments in in silico computer models and an increase in human volunteer testing. According to peta.org, these three methods often require less time and money.
What can you do to protest against these inhumane practices? Avoid products from companies that test on animals in order to best combat against the injustice. Peta.org provides informational and helpful fact sheets and lists of companies that do and don’t test as well as companies affiliated with other companies that test. Also, any company that sells their products in China is now required to animal test per China’s new law.